On August 23, 2017, the beloved #hashtag turned 10 years old. Chris Messina, a tech specialist and former Google designer, came up with the idea in 2007, and it has had a major impact on the social media world ever since. Two years after Messina proposed the idea, Twitter added a hyperlink to all hashtags. By adding these hyperlinks, all tweets including a certain hashtag could be aggregated into one place. Other social media networks such as Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook noticed the popularity of hashtags and eventually implemented them into their own platforms as well.
Certain Twitter practices such as Follow Friday became much more popular with the creation of hashtags. By implementing #FollowFriday, users came up with more practices like this, such as #MotivationMonday. Over time, the use of these hashtags as well as many others increased significantly and became popular trends. In 2010, Twitter introduced a “trending topics” section on users’ homepages, which shows the most popular trends either in the world or near their current location.
On average, there are 125 million hashtags shared a day! #NowPlaying is the most popular hashtag of all time and has been used over 1 billion times. However, #ff, short for #FollowFriday, remains the most popular hashtag that regularly occurs today. While many users include hashtags in their tweets, fans have proven to be extremely passionate about their hashtag use. Of the most popular hashtags used over the past decade, #MTVHottest, #MTVStars, #KCA, #iHeartAwards and #FanArmy, were used over 3 billion times. These five hashtags all involved fans tweeting about award shows, which has become a popular way for viewers to cast their votes.
Twitter considers the hashtag “a powerful way to aggregate global conversations and movement.” While the social network alone has given many people a platform to voice their opinions, the hashtag has allowed strangers to come together and raise awareness for causes that they are passionate about. In 2014, #BringBackOurGirls was used to show support for Nigerian schoolgirls who had been kidnapped by an Islamist group. Michelle Obama was among the 6 million plus users who utilized this hashtag in order to spread awareness about the situation. Other hashtags such as #yesallwomen and #blacklivesmatter have been used in the past to show the importance and impact of the social movements happening in our world today.
So here’s to 10 years, #hashtag! Thank you for being both entertaining and informative.